Desperate to Travel: What’s Your Advice?

Pesquero en Playa el Yaque / Boat in El Yaque Beach
Creative Commons License photo credit: Javier Volcan 2.0

Travel bloggers LOVE to give advice. How to travel, where to go, what to see do and eat.  I love that willingness to help one another out with tips and advice, so I’m hoping you guys can pitch in and help me out on this one.

I got an email from a younger reader asking me for some advice. I’m always so flattered when people ask me for advice, even though I don’t always feel qualified to give it. This problem deals with some themes that I think many of us can relate to: the desire to see the world, the frustration of feeling stuck where you are.

I’m going to paste the letter (edited for brevity and anonymity, along with the answer I sent back.  After that I’m going to ask for your input on this not so uncommon problem.

The Letter:

Hey Steph,

I’m going to make this intro quick: I’m a seventeen year old girl who can’t see anything in my future other than travelling. The only thing that’s stopping me is my parents. You’ve probably heard this a hundred times, but this time it might be different.

Ever since I was little, I dreamed of going to Egypt. Everything about it intrigued me. And still does. But now, I’m dreaming of more than Egypt. My dream started there and branched off to the rest of the world.

If I was to tell my parents that I wanted to go travelling, my mum would just ignore it and my dad would probably laugh and make a joke out of it. In my family, people don’t just go off wandering. Especially females. “What girl do you know in our community that goes travelling?” my mother said to me the other day.

I hear all these stories and older people saying things like, “do what makes you happy”. Nothing would make me happy if I wasn’t able to travel. Nothing. I’m finishing high school very soon and I have no idea what to do with my life. I’ve been told I’m intelligent, that I shouldn’t waste my brains. That I should try to be a doctor or a nurse or something like that –mind you, I know I’m incapable of studying medicine. But that won’t make me happy. Maybe if I could tie the two with traveling, it would work. But how can I travel without my parents’ consent? How could I possibly make them let me go?!

I’m the type that wouldn’t care if I don’t have stacks of money. I’d love to visit developing countries. Anywhere. Literally. Every nook and cranny of the world, I just want to see it.

Its just those two dominant figures in my life that are stopping me. I just don’t know how to make them see that this is what I want. Its more than what I want. Its what I need. I need them to let me choose my path.



My (edited) Response:

Hi P,

I think it’s great that you know you want to travel. It’s hard when you are still underage and need your parents consent to do things like fly to foreign countries. The good news is you are 17, which means you will have more control of your life very soon.

The number one thing you can do to help your case is go to university. This is for a couple of reasons. I know that in America, and I assume in Australia, many schools have study abroad programs where you can go learn in other countries. That is what I did on my first trip abroad and it was a great experience. I would look for a school that has international programs- either studying or volunteering abroad. You could also look at schools that are in other countries.

Once you are out in the real world, you really don’t need your parent’s permission to travel anymore. You need to get yourself to a place where you will be able to fund your own travels, and to do that you’re probably going to need a job. Getting an education guarantees you a better paying job and even opportunities to go work abroad. This doesn’t mean you need to study medicine. I know a lot of kids from university who started out studying science because their parents wanted them to and ended up dropping it because they weren’t passionate about it. Think about what you like to learn about and look for programs that will let you do that.

I hope that’s at least somewhat helpful. Unfortunately there are no magic words to change your parent’s minds. But a large part of the traveling lifestyle is taking charge of your own life, and to do that you need to think long term. A lot of what comes with travel is delayed gratification. I’ve been working for almost two years to fund my next around the world trip. It sucks at the time but I know it’s going to pay off in the end.

Let  me know what you decide to do! Good luck!

Greek to Me (1)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Kim Scarborough


Alright, your turn: What advice would you give P that I left out of my response? How many of you have encountered family conflict with your travel choices? How did you deal with this? The more answers we get the more useful this will be, for P and the many other young people who I’m sure deal with this issue.

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